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Brexit and new UK immigration system 2021

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Click here to view the Central University Brexit Page.

This page is last updated on 10 December 2021.



Following Brexit, the Home Office UKVI has announced major changes to the UK immigration system from 1 January 2021, which will affect all non-UK students.

As part of the Brexit task force headed by the Registrar, a 'Brexit - impact for students' working group has been formed to map the impact of Brexit on students.

The head of the Working Group is Claire O'Leary (Student Opportunity).

The working group has the following aims:

  • To alert all stakeholders to the possible changes that they may be required to make to:
    • Information/guidance/student comms and
    • Marketing
    • The administration of applicant/offer holder/student records (systems and process)
  • To highlight any other aspects of student experience which could be negatively affected by the changes
  • To identify any areas where the impact of the Brexit changes would necessitate systems development, or, where there are any other concerns about successfully making the required changes
  • To monitor and report that all changes identified have been made in time
  • To ensure that opportunities are being taken to proactively encourage prospective EU/EEA/Swiss national students to continue to choose to study at Warwick (share all findings with Student Recruitment and Marketing Services).
Key resources:

Home Office 'International Students Communications Partner Pack - December 2020'.

Stakeholder identification and impact analysis

  • A number of stakeholders have been identified to feed into the consultation.

    Please see the list below.

    If you believe that you should be involved as well, please email Claire O'Leary directly -

    Department Stakeholder(s)
    SROAS: Student Recruitment Sally Smith Lorna Morris
    SROAS: Admissions/Schools Liaison/Outreach Stephen Soanes Alex Malin Thamala Desborough
    SAS: Student Finance and Student Funding James Hutchinson
    SAS: Student Records Management Team Sharon Miles
    SAS: Doctoral College Rhiannon Martyn
    SAS: Student Information Systems Roger Allinson-French
    SAS: Awards & Cerimonies - Enrolment Alex Gray
    SO: Student Immigration & Compliance  Echo Zhou Rachel Millichap
    SO: Student Mobility Erika Hawkes
    SO: Student Development Helen Johnson
    SO: Welcome / SO: World @ Warwick (internationalisation) Will Thomas
    Education Policy & Quality Katharine Gray  
    Student Services: Senate House Student Reception Gareth McConnell 
    Student Services: Warwick Accommodation Wendy Roberts Sioned Cash
    Warwick SU: Student Advice Centre Minhaz Ali
    Central Student Comms and Marketing Emma Mundy Nichola Howell-Manning
    Academic Departments - Attendance monitoring, reporting, right to work Colleagues nominated by: Jackie Clarke Diana Stonebridge Ruth Cooper
  • Stakeholders were asked to complete a questionnaire and answer the following questions:

    • What provisions have you made to date in anticipation of the 31 December 2020 end of the free movement of EU/EEA/Swiss nationals into the UK to live/study/work and of the introduction of the new immigration system, which will see all non-UK nationals being subject to immigration control as non-EEA students currently are? Have you given any thought to the impact this could have on your BAU?
      • a) At very early stages of considering impact of changes
      • b) We have identified some key changes that we will need to make
      • c) We have been closely monitoring the situation and have been working with colleagues across the sector and we are confident that we know what we need to do and/or we know where further clarity from government is required
    • What changes are you anticipating needing to make in terms of:
      • a) Information and guidance that you are required to provide to applicants/offer holders/students?
        (Are there any key questions that you do not yet have answers to and which is preventing you from updating your guidance now (aimed at those seeking to commence studies from 1 January 2020)?
      • b) Administration of applicant/offer holder/student data
        Will your current systems and process enable you to correctly categorise EU/EEA/Swiss national students as ‘international’ rather than ‘home’?
        Will your current systems and process enable you to distinguish between EU/EEA/Swiss national students, who have obtained pre-settled or settled-status, (which will exempt them from immigration control and will mean that they remain eligible for home fees and for student support) and students without pre-settled/settled status?
        If not, are you clear about the changes to systems and process that will be required?)
      • c) student experience provision
    • Where relevant, what proactive steps are you taking to encourage EU/EEA/Swiss national applicants/offer holders/ students to continue to choose to study at Warwick?
    • What are your key concerns about the transition to the new immigration system in relation to EU/EEA/Swiss national applicants/offer holders/students, if these have not been covered in your previous responses?

New UK immigration system 2021

    • In 2019/20, EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals made up approximately 12% of the total student population at Warwick.
    • At 11pm (GMT) on 31 December 2020, the Brexit transition phase will end, bringing to an end the free movement of EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals into the UK.   
    • From 1 January 2021, the UK will implement its new Immigration System, which will see EU/EEA/Swiss Nationals being subject to immigration control (excluding Irish citizens and existing UK residents who have obtained pre-settled or settled status in the UK) in the same way as non-EEA students currently are.   
    • The UK Immigration rules changed from 5 October 2020, bringing the 'new points-based system' Student route into force.  We have published a Student Immigration News item outlining the main changes that affect students. Current international student immigration route, Tier 4, has been rebranded as ‘the Student Route’. Tier 4 Pilot scheme ended. The study time limit is lifted for postgraduate students, although the rule on academic progression will be retained – this will have a beneficial impact on CAS assignment processes.  EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals, along with another 6 nationalities are exempt from ATAS requirement. EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals who have not lived in the UK before and are coming to the UK on or after 1 January 2021 can start to apply for a visa outside of the UK under the Student Route from 5 October 2020.
    • EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals commencing courses in the academic year 2021/22 (i.e., from August 2021) will no longer be able to access financial support from Student Finance England and will not be eligible to pay home fee rates (unless they have secured pre-settled or settled status – see next point). However, this does not apply to Irish nationals living and working in the UK and Ireland, whose rights remain protected. 
    • For EU/EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK before 31 December 2020, who have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme, they will get settled or pre-settled status, depending on how long they’ve been living in the UK and this gives them the right to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021 (they will not be subject to immigration control as EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who do not have (pre)settled status) and they will continue to be eligible for student support and home fee status if they meet all other requirements.
    • From 1 January 2021, the right to study check requirement will extend to new EU/EEA students who hold a Tier 4 visa (those who are not prior UK residents and whose physical arrival in the UK is after 2300GMT on 31/12/2020). Some EEA students will require Tier 4 sponsorship, but others won't. We are not required to conduct a right to study check under Brexit requirement for all EEA students at this point, but as a Tier 4 sponsor, we will be required to conduct a right to study check for anyone who has a Tier 4 visa.
    • From 1 July 2021, we need to conduct a right to study check for all EEA/Swiss nationals starting a new course, whether they are Tier 4 or not.      
    • For 2021/22 entry, where course applications on Universal Admissions will open from 12 October 2020, English language will need to be assessed in line with UKVI guidelines for EU/EEA/Swiss students as well as all other non-UK students. Many EEA students will have pre-settled or settled status – in such cases, it is only Warwick’s academic English requirements which will need to be satisfied, rather than the UKVI rules.    
    • For 2021/22 entry, it will be necessary to have the ability to identify EU/EEA/Swiss students who require Tier 4 sponsorship and those who do not, and it may be beneficial to identify them earlier than July 2021 (at least for UG), particularly where they will require additional documents, such as parental consent letters for under-18s. Many will have obtained pre-settled or settled status and so are not a concern. Currently, we do not collect immigration information at application stage, and this may make it difficult to identify quickly enough who requires Tier 4 sponsorship, and conversely, who may be eligible for ‘home’ fees and student support. We may need to consider starting the CAS process sooner or creating a ‘flag’ at the point of fee assessment.     
    • Students who are UK nationals living in the EEA or Switzerland at the end of the transition period, who wish to study in England, will continue to be eligible for home fee status and student support from Student Finance England for courses starting up to 7 years after the end of the transition period.(Source – Celine Doyle, HEP Account Manager, Student Loans Company).  Since Higher Education is devolved to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, UK nationals living in the EEA or Switzerland previously resident in one of the Devolved Administrations are advised to contact the relevant student funding body for more information.     
    • For UK nationals living in the EEA or Switzerland that have not previously resided in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, they are advised to contact the funding body in the administration they intend to study. More information is available from the relevant student funding bodies.    
    • Attendance monitoring will remain part of Student Route sponsorship, but it will be referred to as engagement monitoring. UKVI Policy for the Student Route published in October 2020 is expected to confirm that provided a sponsor has an institutional academic engagement policy, which is applied consistently, this will be sufficient to meet sponsor obligations and that the UKVI will no longer stipulate a minimum number of expected contact points   (An Immigration Policy Statement paper was published on 13 July 2020).
    • Where Tier 4 students’ English language has been assessed by means other than a Secure English Language Test, the sponsor will be expected to give a brief explanation as to how their English is assessed prior to assigning CAS.  This information will need to be included in the student's CAS.
  • Routine communication with staff:

    We communicate with staff members via the weekly EPQ newsletter.

    You can find a log of archived communication online. If you have not been receiving these updates weekly, click 'joining our mailing list'.

    Ad-hoc communication with staff:

    4 November 2020: We offered a briefing as part of the Admissions Briefing with information on the latest progress - See slides here.

    19 October 2020: We sent a message to the Heads of Departments. See a copy of the email here.

  • We send communication to students affected by Brexit mainly via Marketing & Communications team (Engagement Group).

    Communication with current students and new students with a course start date of 5 October 2020 or before:

    So far 4 mass emails have been sent to all of these EU students in relation to Brexit.

    • On 24 October 2019, an email was sent to all the currently enrolled EU/EEA/Swiss national students giving them an overview of what Brexit means to them, how to apply for EUSS and how their options are affect if the UK leaves the EU with out without a deal. Click here for a copy of the email.
    • On 15 September 2020, an email was sent to all the new EU/EEA/Swiss students (including UG offer accepters and PG offer holders and acceptors) alerting to them the end of Brexit transition period and what they need to do if they are currently outside of the UK. Click here for a copy of the email.
    • On 13 November 2020, an email was sent to all the new and continuing students alerting to them what Term 2 will look like in view of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. EU/EEA/Swiss students are signposted to the Arrivals webpage where their options are explained. You can also view a copy of the email sent to all the students who are remote studying (enrolment status FV), and a sample email sent to all the students who are UK-domociled - this includes UK, EU and international students who have obtained their visa and arrived in the UK.
    • W/c 30 November 2020, a further email was sent to all students (including EU students) explaining the staggered start of teaching in Term 2.

    We have also worked with Student Mobility team and all the outgoing mobility students have been receiving a standard email sent by the team from 22 September 2020. This is sent on an ongoing basis as and when a student has decided to take a period of study abroad via the Student Mobility team.

    Communication with students starting in-year (i.e., after 5 October in 20/21 academic year), or

    Applicants for Autumn 2021/22 entry

    On 24 November 2020, Student Communications team sent an email to applicants and offer holders starting their course in-year in 2020/21 academic year. There are mainly PGR and incoming study abroad EU/EEA/SWISS students. Any new applicants who made their application after 24 November 2020 will receive this as well on a weekly rolling basis.

    From 25 November 2020, Student Communications team are sending an email to all new UG, PGT and PGR EU/EEA/SWISS applicants for 2021/22 study (+2 days after application is received) continuously. This email is sent to all new students incoming as applicants/offer holders until 26 January 2021.

    The text was then updated on 26 January 2021 to recognise that Brexit end of transition has ended and EU students might be eligible for a refund if they paid Immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application. See a copy of the text to:

    Communication with all currently enrolled students - Graduate Route visa / eligibility in relation to remote study

    On 28 January, a news item was included in the Student Newsletter which was sent to all UG, PGT and PGR students in relation to the proposed Graduate Route visa (UK's new 2-year/ 3-year post study work visa). A copy of this can be found on Student Newsletter Archive (28 January 2021).

    To raise awareness of this visa to employers in order to facilitate international students' job hunting, we have also produced an Employer Information Leaflet and shared this with colleagues in Careers & Skills.

    Key take away message that departments may share with students are:

    • The University will review the 6 April latest physical arrival date for international students (those who have not travelled to the UK yet) after the government announcements on 22 February.
    • The Immigration Rules do not prevent Student Visa holders from studying remotely this academic year due to the pandemic – this is a Covid concession to the Rules that is only in place for this academic year. Providing that a student has completed their enrolment and right to study immigration checks correctly (i.e., are currently fully enrolled) and is engaging with their programme as expected, albeit remotely, remote learning will have no impact on their Student Visa. For academic reasons, international students must have approval from their academic department regarding remote study.
    • Currently, those studying on one-year Master’s which they started in September 2020 will not be eligible for the new Graduate Route (post study work) unless they enter the UK by 6 April and complete the final semester of their degree programme in the UK. The HE sector is lobbying the Government to relax this date in view of the pandemic and the disproportionate impact this would have on Sept 2020/21 Master’s students. It is most likely that further updates will be available in March 2021.

    Final reminder to all currently enrolled (including those who are remote studying) full time and part time EU/EEA/Swiss students

    On 28 May 2021, Student Communications team sent a final reminder email to all currently enrolled full time and part time EU/EEA/Swiss national students to take necessary actions due to Brexit. A copy of the message can be found here.

    Key take away message that departments may share with students are:

    • If a student is eligible for EUSS (those who lived in the UK before 31 December 2020), the application deadline for EUSS is 30 June 2021.
    • If a student is not eligible for EUSS and they will come to the UK to continue their full time degree level course after 30 June 2021 (this includes those who started remote study in the autumn of 2020), they should contact Admissions to request a CAS and apply for a Student visa.
    • Any student who has difficulties understanding what they need to do, or need any help with their immigration status, please contact Immigration for assistance (we offer self-bookable Immigration helpdesk appointment, online contact form and live chat).

    Travel advice to current EU/EEA students who started the course before 1 July 2021

    Following concerns raised at USLCG about the impact of covid and remote study on current students who started the course before 1 July 2021 (the University is not required to retrospectively collect or check their visa information), on 9 December 2021, Student Communications team sent an important email to all currently enrolled full time EU/EEA/Swiss national students who started the course before 1 July 2021 in relation to the impact of covid and remote study.

    A copy of the message can be found here.

    Key take away message that departments may share with students are:

    • What they need to do before travelling to the UK, if they are currently outside of the UK
    • How to request a covid concession letter for EUSS initial/ upgrade application
    • Who needs to seek urgent immigration advice.

Work streams activities update - 2 June 2021

  • The first Brexit working group meeting took place on 20 August 2020.

    The group discussed issues identified which require action before the end of October.

    Essentially, 3 work streams have been identified and work is now ongoing to make systems changes and adapt the internal processes.

    1, Admissions - changes to EU/EEA/Swiss students' fees status classification and other impact to Admissions services (UG, PG, WMG and WBS) in terms of admissions comms and processes (including those in relation to CAS and visa)

    1.1 Fees status: Due to the ambiguity in fees status classification for EU/EEA/Swiss nationals starting their course in 2021/22, for Undergraduate students, UCAS has not made any changes on their application form. Therefore, applications from EU/EEA/Swiss national will continue to be automatically classified as 'Home' fee status. A separate process will then need to be implemented to gather more information and determine their fees status, hopefully at the point of them being offered a place.

    For Universal Admissions (non-UCAS courses), two questions have been added to the application form: 'Have you successfully applied for EU Settlement Scheme' and 'How long have you lived in the UK'. The system is currently undergoing test and it is expected to go live on 12 October (this is also when UA is expected to re-open to accept applications for 2021/22). This does not affect the current logic of determining fees status, however, the information collected will be useful for when the rules are clarified and PG Admissions service is in a position to determine these students' fees status.

    Discussions are ongoing in terms of whether new fees categories will be required to facilitate reporting and management information, led by Liz Hough.

    Update on 9 November 2020- UKCISA published an updated guidance which gives a bit more information about future fees status.

    Update on 2 June 2021 - PG Admissions Service has now emailed EU/EEA/Swiss students who had a pending fees status and asked them to complete a fees assessment questionnaire if they think they may be eligible for Home fees. UG Admissions will start this process after 10 June, when offer holders had to make their firm/insurance choice. UKCISA has published further guidance on fees status for those with EUSS status on 28 May.

    1.2 Admissions communications and processes, including CAS and visa related comms

    Admissions are now reviewing their standard communication templates and processes to ensure they continue to be accurate and fit for purpose. They aim to complete this before application forms open again on 12 October (non-UCAS courses), or before the first offer is sent to students.

    Following the change of immigration rules on 5 October 2020, Immigration will review all the webpages and comms in relation to CAS and visa advice which sit with admissions teams and provide required amendments. CAS creation will pause from 2pm on 2 October to the end of 6 October to allow time for changes to be made.

    From 7 October, CAS process will resume and EU/EEA/Swiss students will be able to request a CAS.

    2, Systems change for easier categorisation of EU/EEA/Swiss students (excluding Irish)

    Mary Print (Student Systems) has collected feedback from colleagues about the impact on downstream SITS processes if an additional 'nationality flag' is added to the NAT table (NAT_EDID). SPA and Student Records have been consulted as well.

    We have identified no major impact to downstream SITS processes including the online enrolment system and Tabula.

    Therefore, on 6 October, a new nationality code on NAT_EDID of 2 will be applied to EU/EEA/Swiss (excluding Irish) students.

    This will help identify EU/EEA/Swiss students in the context of Brexit, for example, those whose fees status need reviewing; who now require visa advice and CAS but do not require ATAS etc., so that targeted and bespoke communication can be sent more easily.

    3, Student Communications

    See Log of Communication - Students for more detailed information.

Anything else

  • 10 December 2021: Log of communication to students updated. Added copy of email sent to students on 9 December 2021.

    05 July 2021: Log of communication to students: confirmed stopped automated visa advice email to 20/21 in-year starters. Added updated email template for autumn 2021/22 applicants following the application deadline for EUSS (30 June 2021) - this will continue to be sent until 30 September 2021 when UCAS Clearing is finished.

    02 June 2021: Log of communication to students: added final reminder sent to students on 28 May 2021; Fees status update.

    05 February 2021: Log of communication to students: added news item sent to students on 28 January 2021 re Graduate Route visa.

    26 January 2021: Log of communication to students: Text of the rolling email sent to new EU applicants for 2020/21 and 2021/22 updated to reflect end of Brexit transition and the new provision of Immigration Health Surcharge refund from 2022.

    7 December 2020: Added new communication to students; added Home Office partner pack in 'Introduction' section.

    26 November 2020: log of communication to students starting their course in-year (i.e., after 5 October) in 20/21, and applicants starting their course is 21/22 added.

    16 November 2020: log of communication to staff and students added

    26 August 2020: new webpage created and content added

    5 October 2020: updated 'what do we know so far' with 5 October 2020 immigration rules change; updated work stream activities.

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